The festive season is over so now it is time to turn your thoughts to your summer vacation and which countries for 2014 travel are being recommended by the experts. Every year around December/January, hundreds of lists are published on websites and in travel publications of recommended destinations for the following year – generally most of them come to the same conclusion, featuring the same destinations in each list. I’ve been through quite a few lists to narrow down the most recommend countries for 2014 travel. Here they are:
I know that many will be surprised to see Egypt listed as one of the countries for 2014 travel, but bear with. Yes, there is still trouble and there is no guarantee that it won’t flare up again at any time, but both the US Government and UK Foreign Office have recently relaxed their “no travel” warning for the tourist areas and cultural sites. This is great news for everyone because it was sad that the world lost access to the magnificent sights of Giza, Luxor, Alexandria and everything in between. The Nile cruise route is now re-open and tour operators are once again happy to take bookings. Book early and you can enjoy the splendor that is ancient Egypt before the tourist crowds return. It’s a rare chance to take a selfie in front of the Great Pyramid without hordes of people in the background!
There’s no doubting the next few years are going to be very special for Brazil. 2014 sees the country host the Football World Cup and then in 2016, Rio hosts the Olympic Games. With such events comes massive investment in tourist infrastructure. It’s a great time to experience a country when so much is shiny and new, and where existing facilities have been upgraded. Rio is known for its mighty carnival, but there’s going to be a festive atmosphere in many cities around the country as they get ready to welcome the world (there are 12 host cities). I do advise, however, to not visit during the World Cup, unless you have a passion for soccer.
So long off limits to American visitors, now that the US Government has relaxed some of the travel restrictions, Cuba can definitely take its place as one of the countries to visit in 2014. For Americans, Cuba is an exotic paradise reached in just 45 minutes from Key West and not too much longer from Miami. For non-Americans, Cuba is a Caribbean charm packed with everything expected from an island in this region. Beaches are superb and the inland scenery perfect for hiking, while Havana is a vibrant, rocking place with a completely unique 1950s feel.
Do you dream of glorious wide open African skies, the Big 5 safari animals and sublime, practically deserted beaches? Then Malawi is your answer. You can avoid the tourist hotspots of Africa’s major wildlife parks and head to Majete Game Reserve. Having got rid of the poachers and following a major conservation program, Majete achieved “Big 5” status in 2012, but remains still slightly off the tourist radar so it means you will see more open grasslands and animals than you will fellow travelers and 4X4s. As well as the game reserve you can go snorkeling in Lake Malawi or lie out on one of its shore beaches to catch some rays. And if you’re feeling energetic, maybe a hike in the moon-like landscape around Mount Mulanje will assuage your thirst for an African adventure.
If you’re looking for European countries for 2014 travel, consider the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (to give it its full name). Macedonia is a small Balkan state that hasn’t made as much noise about itself as Croatia, Slovenia and its other neighbors. It is the most southerly Balkan state and shares a border and some common culture with Greece, although it is landlocked. The main attraction is the capital, Skopje, and the massive makeover ordered by the government comes to completion in 2014, so the city should be friendlier than ever. (It already has a thriving café and club scene.) Outside Skopje, visitors can be delighted by Lake Ohrid, Mavrovo and Stobi, the wine growing region of Tikveš, the spa town of Berovo and the Ottoman-era idyll that is Kratovo.
I promise you I am not obsessed with countries beginning with the letter M, but there does seem more than a fair share of them on my list of countries to visit in 2014. They all deserve their place though. Malaysia has set itself a target of achieving 28 million visitors in 2014 and there are plenty of new sights and attractions helping to bolster the already wonderful menu of tourist options. The new 2nd terminal at Kuala Lumpur airport and the wider range of flights for getting about the South East Asia nation will certainly help the travel experience. Major new attractions in Malaysia for 2014 include theme parks Legoland Malaysia and Hello Kitty Land, and Melaka Bird Park, which will be home to 6,000 birds. Greater publicity has been given to cycling tours in KL, Penang and Sabah, and adventurers will surely never be disappointed with the offerings of Malaysian Borneo, highlights of which are Kudat and Pulau Gaya.
Like Brazil, Scotland too is going to have a stellar 2014. The majestic beauty of Scotland is undeniable. The highlands and the Islands are a feast of picturesque scenery, and this is augmented by quaint fishing villages, hundreds of castles, the heather clad moors, hundreds of lochs and vibrant cities. It has always been an adventure playground for outdoors sports lovers and in 2014, sports will take the headlines when Glasgow holds the Commonwealth Games. And, the major sportfest doesn’t end there. The 2104 Ryder Cup (golf) will be held at historic Gleneagles. But don’t worry, if sports aren’t your thing. As well as all the fabulous sightseeing, there will be plenty to see and do under the banner of “Homecoming Scotland” – especially if you can lay claim to some Scottish ancestry. A cultural and heritage celebration of all things Scottish, now is time to get in touch with your Scottish roots (~50 million people around the world have them!).
I do hope that when you’re thinking of your next vacation you will give consideration to some of my suggestions. Or maybe you have other countries to visit in 2014 that you would recommend?
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